Kenya’s mobile sector posts impressive growth in Q4, 2018: report

The number of mobile phone subscriptions in Kenya rose 6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2018 to clock 49.5 million from 46.6 million, a new industry report showed on Saturday.

This translated to a mobile penetration level of 106.2 percent, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) report, which attributed the situation to multiple SIM card ownership.

“The penetration level of more than 100 percent is due to the multiple SIM cards ownership in the country,” said CA.

A report published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) last year indicated that at least 30 percent of Kenyans owned more than one SIM card.

During the period, there were over 2.9 million net additions in mobile subscription, with the authority attributing the substantial increase to the three telecommunication firms’ promotions.

Mobile money subscriptions and agents rose to 31.6 million and 223,931 respectively during the October to December quarter, said the report.

“A total of 787.8 million transactions (person-to-person and withdrawals), valued at 2.1 trillion shillings (21 billion U.S. dollars) were made in the quarter,” said CA.

There were 586.9 million mobile commerce transactions registered in the three months, valued at 18 billion dollars while the value of person-to-person transfers amounted to 7.3 billion dollars.

During the quarter, the total voice traffic stood at 14.7 billion minutes, up from 14.4 billion minutes as Kenyans spend more time talking on phone.

Kenya’s telecom firm, Safaricom recorded the largest share of mobile voice traffic at 9.5 billion minutes from 8.9 billion reported in the previous quarter. The other minutes were shared by Telkom, Airtel, Finserve and Mobile Pay.

The number of SMS sent during the period ending December 2018 rose by 17.6 percent to stand at 18.1 billion from 15.4 billion recorded during the period ending September 2018.

“The increase is attributed to the busy festive season and the national examination period during which friends and relatives exchanged messages of goodwill,” said the CA.

Like the other sectors, Kenya’s internet market remained vibrant during the period under review.

As of Dec. 3, 2018, the total number of active data and internet subscriptions stood at 45.7 million, of which 45.3 million accessed internet via their mobile phones.

“Demand for data services in Kenya is driven by increased need to access government services online, e-commerce services and enhanced interest in social media platforms and high definition video streaming,” noted CA.

There was an increase in the number of cyber threats targeted at Kenya’s cyberspace, with over 10.2 million threats detected during the quarter as compared to 3.8 million in the previous one.

The regulator observed that the Kenyan mobile market has experienced significant growth over the years, but it is yet to reach its saturation point.

Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi pointed out that Kenya’s mobile industry is soaring at a faster rate due to inter-linkages of various services.

“The fact that people can buy airtime, pay for various services or buy goods and buy internet data via mobile money means the segments support the other. This is what is driving the growth of the sector in Kenya, from subscriptions to usage,” he said.